Ambassador: CENTCOM directly linked to unrest in Iran through psywar 

October 24, 2022 - 9:20

TEHRAN — In an interview with the Swedish publication Afton Bladet published on October 18, Iran’s ambassador to Stockholm, Ahmad Massoudifar, discussed the roots and causes of the recent unrest in Iran.

Responding to a question about his view as ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Sweden regarding the current situation in Iran, he said that the tragic passing of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman, is bitter and painful news for all Iranians. 

Mahsa Amini, a Kurd from the city of Saqez, fainted on September 13 while in police custody in Tehran. She died three days later in hospital. She had been detained by morality police to receive training on dress code.

“In the aftermath, many of our people and top officials, including the President himself, demanded a special investigation and immediate judicial attention into the issue. In such an emotionally fraught context, actors of adversarial states saw an opportunity to harvest decades of investment in the destabilization of our country and guide civil protest towards insurrectionist violence.”

The diplomat added “the mass shootings carried out by separatist terror organizations with links” to foreigners derailed civil protests.

The ambassador then told the Afton Bladet journalist that he doesn’t have to remind a professional journalist of the distinction between civil protest and “organized terrorism or any other form of unsanctioned violence that targets innocent civilians and public property.”

“You must be familiar with the long history of how the conflation of this distinction has been used many times over to justify foreign aggression against the peoples of our region or anti-imperialistic nations in the Global South more broadly,” he added. 

The envoy said a CT scan of brain and lungs, examination of the corpse, pathology, and necropsy revealed that Mahsa Amini died of severe hypoxia and a subsequent brain failure, adding that in this special case, the report has been made public and is open to be medically peer-reviewed.
The ambassador added every major medical organization in Iran was involved in examining Mahsa’s body. 

The Forensic Medicine Organization in Iran said in its report published on October 7 that based on medical documents Mahsa had been suffering from a chronic disease. 

“This finding seriously questions the narrative spread across Western media which claim Amini was ‘severely beaten’ by Iranian police before falling into a coma. The unrest has abated in recent days, but Iran holds Western nations responsible and accountable for their role in fueling the unrest and the losses incurred on the civilians and authorities,” the diplomat highlighted. 

In response to a question about the use of what the journalist called “massive force” against the protestors and the reason behind this “brutality,” the envoy said, “There can never be a reason behind brutality. The word ‘reason’ implies a justified cause and brutality is not justified in our view.  The question itself contains a judgment statement. Civil protest in Iran is legal and protected under the law. Vandalism, unsanctioned violence against civilians and authorities, murder, and transnational terrorism however are not.” 

“For example, in the recent attacks by Jaish ul-Adl - a militant Salafi jihadist group mainly operating in southeastern Iran - 19 were killed and more than 20 were injured including civilians. I would not describe this as ‘protest’. Murder, armed attacks, and violence is not appeased by the security forces of any country that I know of, including Iran,” he continued. 

The Afton Bladet correspondent then asked the Iranian ambassador that why any concrete proof of allegations that the enemies, notably the U.S. and Israel, have ignited protests in Iran have not been presented, to which he referred the Swedish journalist to the study done by the Stanford Internet Observatory detailing the disinformation and psychological warfare practices of CENTCOM. 

“There is an ongoing audit on all Pentagon psychological warfare efforts partly because of that report. Unsurprisingly, a significant portion of the unit’s efforts were found to be directed at Iran. A key strategy was the creation of multiple sham media outlets publishing content in Farsi. For example, Fahim News claimed to provide ‘accurate news and information’ on events in Iran, prominently publishing posts declaring ‘the regime uses all of its efforts to censor and filter the internet,’ and encouraging readers to stick to online sources as a result,” Massoudifar stated. 

“If you read the report, you find that CENTCOM’s psychological warfare narratives have direct relevance to the protests that have engulfed Iran. There was a particular focus among one group of bots and trolls on women’s rights. Dozens of posts compared Iranian women’s opportunities abroad with those in Iran – one meme on this theme contrasted photos of an astronaut with a victim of violent spousal abuse – while others promoted protests against hijab. Alleged government corruption and rising living costs were also recurrently emphasized,” he stressed. 

However, despite abundant and clear evidence of foreign direction and sponsorship, Western journalists and pundits have described them as conspiracy theories and claimed that the riots were original and grassroots in nature, he lamented. 

The Swedish correspondent then asked why international journalists aren’t issued visas to visit Iran, to which the envoy responded that there is no policy to this effect in place.

Every journalist can fill an application form and visit Iran, he added. 

On his view regarding the reaction of the Swedish government to protests in Iran, the envoy stated that Tehran expects the Sweden not to pass judgments before they have access to all the facts. 

“Commenting on the investigation before expert biopsy reports were out wasn’t constructive. Furthermore, I expect the Swedish government, as I do with all foreign governments, not to interfere in Iran’s internal affairs and allow national dialogue to shape Iran’s future. I expect them to understand that the West can no longer impose themselves on others through force; and that Western ideals and identity represents a minority of the people in the world and cannot be considered a universal good that can justify violations on others’ self-autonomy,” the envoy concluded. 


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